previews\ Feb 24, 2013 at 10:00 am

Preview: Learn how to play guitar from the pros in BandFuse: Rock Legends


For a few years, Guitar Hero was the optimal music gaming franchise. It allowed players to rock out without having to worry about the complexities of actually knowing how to play guitar. That franchise was soon dethroned, however, and Rock Band took the stage as the new king of plastic instruments. Ultimately, Rock Band 3 and Rocksmith allowed music fans to test their mettle with real instruments, acting as rock star tutorials. BandFuse: Rock Legends is the next major entry in the rock 'n' roll gaming genre. While the game will certainly invite players to just jam out, its main focus is on teaching you how to play the guitar.

Right from the start, be aware that this isn't simply a party game that you bust out when you've got a group of pals over. You can certainly do that (more on that later), but BandFuse is here to teach you something, too. You've got five levels of difficulty to choose from, starting at beginning all the way to pro. Depending on just how mad your guitar playing skills may be, you'll have to adjust the difficulty accordingly.

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During my preview session, I noticed that there was an incredible level of authenticity to BandFuse. This was evident in the videos that play in the background during songs. While beginners may focus more on learning how to play and getting the notes down, more advanced players and spectators will be treated to some cool videos of bands rocking out to the selected songs. There's something really rad about seeing Pearl Jam playing “Alive” or watching as Heart delivers “Barracuda.” Tracks in Bandfuse aren't shoddy covers akin to those in the first Guitar Hero, either. These are authentic songs as played by the original bands, so the inclusion of these background videos makes everything more real.

The cooperation from real bands doesn't end there, though. Developer Realta Entertainment Group has confirmed that it's collaborating directly with performers, such as Slash, to deliver video tutorials. These clips showcase specific parts of certain songs, and the artists themselves break them down so you can learn how to play note by note. Realta Lead Notetracker Seth Chapla explained to me that these videos are meant to fully provide the “inspiration piece of the puzzle” that forms BandFuse.

This isn't going to be “guitar made easy.” That said, BandFuse is being developed to provide an accessible and inviting tool for striving guitar students. Learning the ins and outs of music is a complicated process, but with this massive guitar lesson, you'll be able to dissect the art of playing an instrument. The Skills Lab, for example, is rife with plenty of lessons -- if you so much as have doubts on how to even hold a freakin' guitar pick, you'll learn how to do that. Oh, and don't feel embarrassed -- I didn't know how to hold a guitar pick myself until I spent some time with the game.

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BandFuse allows you to go into each of its songs and methodically pick them apart. You can go into different sections to slow them down and really practice until you get everything you're supposed to be doing. You can even loop parts of songs and do a little experimentation if you so desire, though this should be reserved for players who have at least learned some of the basics. The point is that BandFuse puts a ton of attention to detail and allows you to learn at your own pace, something that will benefit guitar aficionados in the long run.

As previously mentioned, I tried my hand at a little guitar playing. I was nowhere near good or even decent, but after a couple of tries, I started getting the hang of it. Granted, I was playing on the lowest difficulty setting and had the song slowed down, but hey, that's how you learn to play guitar! I felt comfortable holding the real guitar in my hands, and seeing that I was hitting the right notes was completely rewarding.

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In addition to being a guitar teacher of sorts, BandFuse also lets you get together with your pals to play together. Guitars, bass, and vocals will all be supported so you can play along with some of your favorite bands. Think of it as karaoke, except you don't have to listen to poor, bastardized versions of popular songs. Instead, you can play along with Blink182, Coldplay, Slash, and many, many others.

While details are scarce at the moment, Realta is partnering with Fender to bundle real guitars with copies of BandFuse. There will be different bundles available at launch, though the devs couldn't share that info with me during my demo session. BandFuse is due out sometime in the spring. If you've got that itch to learn guitar, this upcoming title seems like it can definitely get you there. It'll take some time, no doubt, but BandFuse has so many options that you're likely to actually learn something. Hey, no one said being a rock star would be easy, but this project will certainly give you a nice push to get there faster.

Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.

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David Sanchez David Sanchez is the most honest man on the internet. You can trust him because he speaks in the third person.
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